4. Understanding the Big Picture
A common struggle many people have with Bible reading is getting lost in the more challenging books. Leviticus, Job, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel, and others can create quite a challenge for readers of the Bible. Sometimes it’s hard to track what’s really going on in a particular chapter. Frustrated, we ask, “How does what I’m reading relate to the message of the book and the overall message of the Bible?” If we don’t understand the big picture, our Bible reading can quickly feel more like drudgery than delight.
But the good people at The Bible Project have been producing excellent short videos, providing a great solution to this problem. These videos summarize the major themes and ideas of each of the books of the Bible. They do an excellent job giving you a big picture of some of these weightier books.
I’ve found that after watching these videos (sometimes more than once), I have a much better grasp of the context of the book. When I come to a confusing passage, I can chew on it in light of the overarching message of the book. This has brought more light and clarity to chapters that I used to find confusing or unhelpful.
Here is The Bible Project’s video on the book of Job. I think it’s one of their best videos.
5. Recording Our Prayers and His Answers
My final upgrade recommendation concerns prayer. I’ve often struggled to pray during my times of personal worship. I find it hard to know how to pray and can succumb to the fear that my prayers are ineffective.
So I’ve upgraded my prayer life by writing down my prayer requests and the answers I’ve received. This has been one of the best changes I’ve ever made to my prayer life. A whole section of my prayer journal is split into two columns: “Prayers” and “Answers”. As I pray, I write down specific things I’m asking God for. Then when God answers, I record those answers.
This has been used by God to build up my faith in meaningful ways. I’ve discovered that God often answers my prayers, more often than I would have guessed. My prayer journal often prompts me to pause thank God for his answers to my prayers.
Our God writes down what he values most (Luke 10:20), so how fitting that we should write down all he has done to us in answer to our prayers. I’ve seen God answer through marriages, pregnancies, financial needs met, safe trips, healings, etc. One of my favorite parts of keeping a prayer journal is following up with friends who have shared a specific prayer request. My prayer journal helps me keep praying for these requests and follow up. So many friends have been encouraged when I ask how God has answered our prayers.
I can’t recommend this one enough. Write down your prayers and answers. Over and over, I have been reminded our Heavenly Father loves to answer the prayers of his children. I love to ask him for big things and small things, record his answers, and thank him over and over for his loving kindness.